US election/riots: Republicans should vote yes on Trump impeachment

OPINION:

Republicans should vote to convict US President Donald Trump in the coming Senate trial. Impeachment and conviction have the twin benefits of signalling that Trump’s behaviour was unacceptable and, potentially, barring him from future office.

For a Republican Party desperate to move on, this is very attractive. The counter argument is that it will martyr him. Well, in the eyes of his supporters, he already is a martyr – they think the 2020 election was stolen – and he’s going to be “persecuted” even more in the courts.

Trump will be as much a problem for the GOP out of office as in it: he will intervene as often as he can, threatening to stand again in 2024, offering a running commentary on Republican strategy. His rhetoric has already cost the GOP control of the Senate – it was probably Trump’s baseless challenge to the 2020 result that led to the defeat of the party in two senatorial contests in Georgia.

Given this, and the way he’s abused the party for several years, I struggle to see why senior Republicans should stand by him now.

Impeachment will divide the GOP, no doubt. A civil war on the Right is likely. But it’s also inevitable, whether he is convicted or not, and while popular outrage at the storming of the Capitol is still high, and this process has some momentum, it might be better to lance the boil now rather than later on.

It gives the GOP a chance to restate what it stands for – constitutional norms – and, if Congress votes for it, to take him out of consideration for president again.

Accomplishing this while he is banned from Twitter, and yet to find a wide-reaching alternative, is more attractive than permitting a rerun of the 2016 primaries later on. The conservative movement does not want to be talking about this mess in four years’ time.

Finally, this can separate out Trumpism from Trump. Not everything the President did was wrong: he avoided war and put the brakes on China’s trade supremacy, and he tapped into a groundswell of working-class dissent that is more racially diverse than the Left cares to admit.

Those who are serious about making America great again must see that Trump is now a barrier to his own project, that there is a palpable need for leadership.

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